Wednesday, March 11, 2015

cornmeal fried pork chops with goat cheese smashed potatoes.

Friday night Tyler and I fly out to Tennessee to experience all that Nashville has to offer.  This will include but is not limited to consuming a lot of Hot Chicken, eating at Husk, exploring some plantations, and if I can get Tyler drunk enough, visiting a Honky-Tonk Bar.  

It's gonna be awesome.

In honor of this trip, I decided to finally whip something up from the Heritage cookbook that my brother got my for Christmas.  This cookbook has been taunting me for sometime.  All of the recipes in the book are just beautiful, the kind of elegant food you can only make when you have a kitchen (just slightly) bigger then ours and a myriad of ingredients at your disposal.  This is not easy food to make, some of these recipes are so anally specific that I think even Thomas Keller would have a hard time convincing himself he should exert the effort.  It's all just slightly pretentious.

But then you come across a recipe for cornmeal crusted pork-chops with goat cheese smashed potatoes and your mouth waters and you finally think to yourself  "this, this I can make".

And so this past Sunday I did just that.  And the resulting dish is what I would describe as Southern comfort food.   A shatteringly crisp cornmeal crust gives way to the tenderest pork chops in all the land.  That pork chop is layered a top a pile of the dreamiest potatoes I have ever encountered. Seriously - I am not a potatoes person, give me pasta over potatoes any day but these potatoes, these potatoes could give pasta a run for their money.  The tender red potatoes are tossed in butter and milk and goat cheese to create pockets of utter creamy wonderfulness - potato perfection.

I think the South and I will get along swimmingly.  

Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops and Goat Cheese-Smashed Potatoes
Adapted slightly from Heritage by Sean Brock

The only change I really made was to dial back the amount of butter.  Yes more butter is good, but less butter is still very good.   

Serves 6 – Easily halved

For the Pork Chops
6 boneless pork chops (about 3 ounces each)
About 3 cups buttermilk, whole milk if you can find it
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups (fine or medium-grind) yellow cornmeal
Cayenne pepper
Canola oil (or high heat safflower or sunflower, what I used) for shallow-frying

For the Potatoes

3 pounds small-to-medium red potatoes
Kosher salt
1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 cup heavy cream)
6 ounces soft goat cheese
6 - 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1/2 cup finely sliced fresh chives
Freshly ground black or white pepper

Marinate the pork chops: Pound each pork chop (using a meat pounder) between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/8-inch thick. Place the chops in a container and cover them with the buttermilk. Cover and marinate at least four hours or overnight or in the refrigerator.

Prep the smashed potatoes: Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and add 1/4 cup salt. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook the potatoes until fork-tender, about 20 minutes for small potatoes or 30 minutes for medium ones; try not to let the water boil.

Cook the chops: Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Remove the chops from the buttermilk, discarding it and patting most of the buttermilk off the chops. Season the chops with salt and cracked pepper. Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl and season it with salt and cayenne pepper. Dredge the chops in the cornmeal, gently shaking off the excess, and put on a large plate.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, add a 1/4-inch of oil to each and heat for 1 minute. Carefully place 2 pork chops in each skillet; do not shake the skillets or touch the chops for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the chops until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Carefully turn the chops over and cook until golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes more. Discard the oil the skillet if it gets too murky and repeat with remaining chops.

Finish the potatoes: When the potatoes are almost cooked, bring the half-and-half to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, carefully smash each potato without breaking it apart. Pour the hot half-and-half over the potatoes; crumble the goat cheese, butter and chives over them then fold it together. Season with salt, if needed, and white or black pepper.

Serve the potatoes and chops together. 

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